Scouting the enemy: A guide to Paris Saint-Germain

(Photo credit should read PASCAL PAVANI/AFP/Getty Images)
(Photo credit should read PASCAL PAVANI/AFP/Getty Images) /
2 of 3
(Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images)
(Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images) /

Players to watch for

PSG is not all about Neymar, Mbappe, or Cavani.

PSG, right now, are a team which is far more superior than their previous versions from the last couple of seasons. They are one of the favorites to lift the Champions League trophy. They will be up against a spirited Real Madrid, who regard the UCL as their own.

In their bid to carry forward their domestic dominance to the European stage, the Parisians will have to usurp the team which has dominated the competition and have won it a record 12 times.

One cannot simply ignore any player in the PSG line-up with the likes Verratti, Rabiot, Dani Alves and Marquinhos. However, there are specific PSG players for whom the game holds special relevance than the others.

Neymar Jr.

PSG fought tooth and nail in the last summer window and snatched Neymar from FC Barcelona. Neymar himself wanted to go to a club where he is the main man. Paris opened their doors for him in a bid to create a squad that could challenge for the Champions League.

Since his move to PSG, there have been constant rumors linking him with a move to Real Madrid. As luck would have it, Neymar is back in Spain to face Real Madrid. It could not get any more dramatic for the Brazilian.

His past with Barca, his present with PSG, and his potential future at the Bernabéu will all come together for the Brazilian. It will be interesting to see how Neymar approaches the game.

Kylian Mbappe

19-year-old Mbappe is arguably the most exciting youngster in world football right now. Real Madrid actually made a bid for Mbappe in the summer which did not go through. In his bid to stay and develop his game in France, Mbappe joined PSG on loan from AS Monaco.

Mbappe is yet another player brought in by PSG to realize their dream of winning the Champions League. Mbappe is a major goal threat and his darting runs to meet cutbacks from wings is a constant in the PSG attacking scheme.

More from The Real Champs

However, since his accident with Lyon’s goalkeeper, Mbappe has been somewhat off color. He has been fluffing chances and misplacing passes. Having said that, the player remains a major threat and could prove more than a handful for Marcelo down the right wing.

Marcelo lacks pace and Kylian can easily out-run him. Real Madrid need to be extra cautious of him and his movements as Mbappe is extremely efficient with the ball at his feet otherwise.

Ángel Di María

This first leg marks the return of Ángel Di María to the Bernabéu. Once loved and adored by the Madrid faithful, Di María will be running high on emotions for this match. Edinson Cavani was out injured and marks his return without any game time ahead of the clash with Real Madrid. As a result, Unai Emery could choose to start the Argentine.

We all know what Di María can do on the football pitch. I am sure those who have seen him in a Real Madrid jersey could never forget what he was. He practically runs up and down the wings for all 90 minutes, as if this guy has an extra set of lungs. The amount of two-way work Di María offers could be instrumental for PSG to keep the Real Madrid fullbacks in check.

It will be interesting to see where Emery decides to play him though. Thiago Motta (injury) and Lassana Diarra could be a liability in the game. Le Celso, although impressive, is not a CDM and could be out of his usual position. Unai Emery might start Rabiot as a CDM and start with Di Maria in the midfield.